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This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
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April 18 – Reading: 1 Corinthians 7:1-24
Good afternoon, Family! Thank you for continuing our journey through the New Testament. Today’s passage is 1 Corinthians 7:1-24. In this letter Paul has been dealing with issues that confront the church today, divisions better known as cliques, sex immorality, and how to handle Christian conflicts, and now marriage. How should Christians think about marriage? Is it better to be married or not? Should married Christians have sex? Paul provides clear and sometimes surprising answers to these questions in 1 Corinthians chapter 7.
Key Verse: 1 Corinthians 7:23
“You were bought with a price; do not become bondservants of men.”
1 Corinthians 7:1
Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.”
In prior chapters, Paul dealt with issues among the Corinthians which had been reported to him. Among these were dangerous attitudes towards sexuality, sin, disputes, and divisions. Paul now turns his attention to answer specific questions they had asked him in an earlier letter. The first comes in the form of a statement, likely quoted from the Corinthians themselves: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman”. Since we don’t have the letter from the Corinthians to Paul, scholars are left to speculate from this statement and the context of the chapter. Apparently, some in Corinth believed that even married Christians should abstain from sex. In addition, some seem to have believed Christians should not be married, at all. Perhaps this was a response to the overwhelming amount of sexual immorality in the Greek and Roman culture. Perhaps they were following some of the secular philosophy of the day that said not having sex led to a higher spirituality.
1 Corinthians 7:2-5
2 But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. 3 The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
Wherever this idea came from, Paul rejected it firmly. Married people should have regular sex, he insists, because of the temptation to engage in sexual immorality. This is one purpose of marriage, Paul insists, by God’s design. Marriage is such an intimate bond that both husbands and wives have authority over each other’s bodies. They must not deprive each other except under specific conditions and for specific times in order to avoid becoming targets for Satan’s temptation to sexual sin.
1 Corinthians 7:6-8
6 Now as a concession, not a command, I say this.[a] 7 I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another. 8 To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single, as I am.
Paul, though, is single, and happily so. He openly wishes all Christians could be as he is. By this he means that he has what is sometimes called the gift of celibacy: he is not distracted by overwhelming sexual desire. Those without this gift are not in the wrong, as they have other gifts from God. In all cases, it is better to marry—and have recurring sex—than to burn with passion and risk falling into sexual immorality.
1 Corinthians 7:9-16
9 But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion. 10 To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband 11 (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife. 12 To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. 13 If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. 15 But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you[b] to peace. 16 For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?
In addition, nobody should get divorced attempting to achieve greater closeness to God. God intends for marriage to be a lifelong contract, unbroken except in very specific cases. Christians should not separate even from unbelieving spouses, though they should not resist if an unsaved spouse leaves them. In fact, by staying in the marriage, a believer may have the chance to lead his or her spouse to Christ.
1 Corinthians 7:17-24
17 Only let each person lead the life[c] that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches. 18 Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision. 19 For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God. 20 Each one should remain in the condition in which he was called. 21 Were you a bondservant[d] when called? Do not be concerned about it. (But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity.) 22 For he who was called in the Lord as a bondservant is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a bondservant of Christ. 23 You were bought with a price; do not become bondservants of men. 24 So, brothers,[e] in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God.
Paul’s rule of thumb is that nobody should seek to change their situation in life after coming to faith in Christ. The context here is that of people forcing unnecessary changes for the wrong reasons. If God called you where you are, He is with you where you are. While it’s possible that God might call a person to radically re-order their entire life, that is not the case for all believers. Paul encourages born-again Christians to stay “as they are,” in the sense of their state of life. This means whether they are married or not, circumcised or not, slave or free, although slaves should welcome freedom if available. In Christ, slaves are, in fact, free, and free Christians are slaves to Christ.
April 17 – Reading: 1 Corinthians 6
Good morning, Family, Thank you for continuing our journey through the New Testament today we will read 1 Corinthians 6:1-20. Please remember to comment. Lets us know what you are getting out of the reading. Have a blessed day!!
Key Verse 1 Corinthians 6:11
And such were some of you [before you believed]. But you were washed [by the atoning sacrifice of Christ], you were sanctified [set apart for God, and made holy], you were justified [declared free of guilt] in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the [Holy] Spirit of our God [the source of the believer’s new life and changed behavior].
The church in Corinth suffered from serious issues, which Paul set out to address in his letter. Earlier chapters dealt with problems such as division in the church or tolerance for extreme sin (Sexually immorality). He confronts two additional issues in 1 Corinthians chapter 6.
1 Corinthians 6:1-2
When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? 2 Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases?First, it seems at least one pair of the Corinthian Christians were involved in a lawsuit against each other over a minor dispute. Paul is outraged by this. His main objection is that two brothers in Christ would choose to willingly submit to the judgment of a secular government court. Paul describes the judges involved as unrighteous and with no standing in the church (1 Corinthians 6:1–2).Paul is not saying Christians should never be under the authority of secular government, nor ever appear in court. He teaches clearly in Romans that Christians must submit to government authorities. These exist, in part, to punish those who commit crimes—their purpose is to counteract human sin.
1 Corinthians 6:3-8
3 Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! 4 So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? 5 I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, 6 but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? 7 To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? 8 But you yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers![a]
Instead, Paul specifically condemns these Corinthians for voluntarily going to court over a minor issue. For something “trivial,” the church should be fully capable of judging and resolving a dispute between brothers in Christ.After all, Paul says, those in Christ will one day judge the world and angels. Instead of going to court before unbelievers, it would be less of a defeat to just live with being wronged or defrauded. It is shameful to see brothers or sisters in Christ cheating one another.
1 Corinthians 6:9–10
9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous[b] will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,[c] 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
Paul reminds the Corinthians they are not like those outside of the church. The wicked or unrighteous will not inherit God’s kingdom. They will not share in God’s glory forever. The unrighteous are labeled by their sinful activities: sexual immorality, idol worship, adultery, practicing homosexuality, stealing, greed, regular drunkenness, and spewing angry insults. Some of the Corinthians in the church carried these labels at one time, but then they came to faith in Christ and a transformation took place. Any and all sins are forgiven for those who trust in the Savior. This is what has happened for the believers in Corinth: the label was removed because it was not who they were any more. They were washed, sanctified, and justified. Clearly, some of those sinful activities continued to be an issue in the church, but they now carried the identity of Christ and shared a destiny with Him. Paul is urging them to live up to that new identity and not down to the standards of their culture.
1 Corinthians 6:12-19
12 “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. 13 “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”—and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! 16 Or do you not know that he who is joined[d] to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” 17 But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 18 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin[e] a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?
You are not your own,Next, Paul corrects some wrong thinking among the Corinthian Christians about participating in sexual immorality. Sexual activity of all kinds was common in the Greek and Roman culture of Corinth. It’s not surprising to think that even believers in Jesus had a difficult time seeing sexual immorality as a serious issue. Arguments in favor of unregulated sex outside of marriage seem to have included three wrongheaded ideas. First, that nothing is sinful for Christians because we are not under the law. Second, that sexual desire is just like any other human appetite, and the most natural thing to do when we are hungry is to eat. Third, since the spirit lives forever, what we do with our mortal bodies doesn’t really matter.Paul confronts each argument. First, the standard for believers should not be whether something is “unlawful,” in the sense of being overtly condemned, but whether it is “helpful” and whether it destroys our self-control. Second, sex is far more than just another appetite or bodily function. Those who have sex, even with a prostitute, become “one body” with their partner both physically and spiritually. God designed sex to work exactly that way within marriage. Third, what a Christian does with his or her body matters because we will be resurrected from the dead just as Jesus was. More than that, our bodies belong to God and are meant for Jesus just as He is meant for us. To join our bodies in sex with, say, a prostitute, is to join Jesus with that prostitute (1 Corinthians 6:12–19).
1 Corinthians 6:20
20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.Instead of practicing sexual immorality, Christians must run from it and run towards opportunities to glorify God with their bodies (1 Corinthians 6:20).
April 16 – Reading: 1 Corinthians 5
Good morning, Family, Thank you for continuing our journey through the New Testament. Today’s journey takes us to 1 Corinthians 5:1-13
Key Verse: 1 Corinthians 5:7
7 Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
Paul has criticized the Corinthian church for issues such as pride and self-sufficiency. As one might expect, this has led to other problems and mistakes. At the end of chapter 4, Paul noted that the believers in Corinth were behaving as if they were unaccountable—as if there was no chance they would be confronted for their behavior. In this chapter, Paul applies his serious remark about discipline (1 Corinthians 4:21) to a heinous real-life example of sin among the Corinthians.
1 Corinthians 5:1–2
It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. 2 And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.
In 1 Corinthians 5, Paul confronts the church for ignoring an ongoing case of incest by a member of the church. Instead of feeling sad about the sin in which this man was openly indulging, the Corinthians continued to be proud of themselves and judgmental of others. Two groups from Corinth had visited Paul in Ephesus. One or both reported to him that a man in the Corinthian church was engaged in a sexual affair with his father’s wife. Though the woman was not the man’s biological mother, this qualified as incest under both Jewish law and even the moral standards of that era’s pagan culture. It was a clear and indisputable case of open sexual immorality.
1 Corinthians 5:3–5
3 For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. 4 When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.
Paul commands the church to remove the man from among them. By this, Paul means that this person is to be treated as a non-believer, and one not welcome in the congregation; he will explain this in more detail later. Most likely, the woman in question was an outsider, rather than a self-identified Christian. Paul declared the man guilty and told the Corinthians to consider Paul as being present with them in spirit at their next meeting. Then they were to deliver the man to Satan for the destruction of his flesh to make it possible for his spirit to be saved from the Lord’s judgment. His purpose for this church discipline is mostly for the sake of helping the sinner—seeking his repentance—but also for the good of the church (1 Peter 2:12; 2 Peter 2:1–2). The church ought to have already dealt with such a serious issue.
1 Corinthians 5:6–8
6 Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
Why had the Corinthians not taken action in this matter already? Paul again calls out their boasting. Their pride kept them from removing a sin from among them that threatened to spread, like bad leaven in good dough, to the whole community. Leavening agents were passed from old, fermented dough into new dough. A small bit would eventually grow as it was mixed into clean, fresh material. Paul’s point is that sin is contagious—they must treat this man and his sin as the Jewish people would treat leaven during the Passover celebration, removing it completely from their homes. Paul reminds these believers that they have already been saved by the blood of Christ, the ultimate Passover lamb. Now they must celebrate that salvation by removing malice and evil from their lives and replacing it with truth and sincerity.
1 Corinthians 5:9–13
9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church[b] whom you are to judge? 13 God judges[c] those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”
Paul had given instructions on these matters in his previous letter, but the Corinthians misunderstood them. He did not mean that Christians should have nothing to do with the sinful people they meet in the world, because that would require them to leave the world altogether (9-10). Rather he meant that Christians are to have no close fellowship with those who say they are believers but deny it by their shameful behaviour (11).Christians are not required to judge non-Christians for their sins, but they are required to take action against sin in the church.
April 15 – Reading: 1 Corinthians 4:1-21
Paul’s words to the Christians in Corinth become more stern and pointed as he comes to the end of the first section of his letter to them. Paul has pointed out that these believers are acting like spiritual children (1 Corinthians 3:1–2). One of the things Paul has been challenging the Corinthians about is how they have divided themselves based on which of their Christian leaders they are loyal to.
1 Corinthians 4:1–5
In doing so, they have set themselves against some of the other leaders, such as Paul, Apollos, and Peter. They have made themselves judges in this way. Paul begins 1 Corinthians 4 by agreeing that he and the other ministers are servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. In that role, it does matter that they are faithful, and the Lord will judge their works when the time comes. Paul, though, is not worried about the opinion of the Corinthians or anyone else. They are not his judges. He refuses even to judge himself. That is the Lord’s work.
1 Corinthians 4:6–7
The Corinthians must not puff themselves up to put themselves in the position of judging one of their ministers against another. In doing so, Paul strongly affirms the principle that God’s written Word and not human tradition or opinion is the ultimate judge of our faith. When personal opinion is elevated to the same status as God’s Word, bickering and division will result. As Paul says, believers are far from perfect, themselves. The good that is in their lives has been received from God as a gift. Why would they boast about something that has been given to them as if they had it all along ?
1 Corinthians 4:8–9
Paul uses sarcasm to describe their attitude of pride and self-reliance instead of humility and dependence on God. Why would they need anything from God? They already have everything they want, right? They are rich. They have become kings. Paul satirically wishes they really were kings, so he could be a king, too, instead of living under persecution and in poverty. He begins to show the differences between his life as an apostle and their lives of status-seeking and wealth-gathering in Corinth. He is not complaining. He sees his life as an apostle as one put on display by God before the world as a man condemned to death.
1 Corinthians 4:10–13
Paul and the other apostles appear to the world as fools for Christ’s sake. The Corinthians see themselves as wise. The apostles are weak and dishonorable in worldly terms. The Corinthians wish to be strong and respected in their culture. Paul and the other apostles live in poverty. They are hungry, homeless, and beat up by life. They must do manual labor to support themselves, in addition to the work of ministry. They are mistreated, insulted, persecuted, and slandered, though they follow Jesus’ example of blessing those who harm them. In short, they are considered the scum of the earth in the world’s eyes.
1 Corinthians 4:14–17
Paul insists that he does not write these things to make the Corinthians feel bad about living for status and wealth and comfort. Instead, he hopes his strong words will help them to change the course of their lives. Since he led them to Christ, he is a like their spiritual father. Paul is not attempting to claim some title, or honor (Matthew 23:9), but only to explain his loving care for their spiritual growth. These are his beloved “children,” spiritually speaking. He wants them to go beyond understanding his teaching; he wants them to imitate how he lives it out in his own life. He is sending Timothy to them to show them how to do that.
1 Corinthians 4:18–21
Paul is also planning to come to see them himself, to confront those who are arrogant with the genuine power of God as displayed in the Holy Spirit. In the ancient world, just as today, people often “talk tough” when the don’t think they’ll be confronted face-to-face. Paul asks a very question: would they prefer him to come with a rod of correction, or in a spirit of gentleness?
April 14 – Reading: 1 Corinthians 3
Good evening, Family, thank you for continuing our journey through the New Testament. Our passage tonight is 1 Corinthians 3
KEY VERSES: 1 Corinthians 3:6-7
“I planted, Apollos watered, but God gives the increase. So that neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.” (3:6-7)
1 Corinthians 3:1-5
But I, brothers,[a] could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, 3 for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? 4 For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human? 5 What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each.
The Corinthians were caught up in “hero worship”—they liked to glory in men rather than glory in God; in particular, they liked to identify themselves with their favorite preacher, exalting him and criticizing all others (note 1 Corinthians 1:12). In the context of this spiritual problem that was all too prevalent in the Corinthian church, Paul asks the question, “After all, what is Apollos? And what is Paul?” (verse 5) His answer may have come as a shock to the hero-worshiping Corinthians, but he defines himself and the other preachers and leaders of the church as “ministers.” The Greek word translated “ministers” is the same word from which is derived the term “deacon;” the word was used of those who served and engaged in very menial acts of service—like Christ Himself.
1 Corinthians 3:6-7
6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.
Paul “planted the seed”—he brought the gospel to Corinth and introduced the Corinthians to the Savior. Apollos “watered it”—he nurtured the Corinthian believers in the Christian faith. “But God made it grow”—apart from the divine working of God, the ministries of Paul and Apollos would have been ineffective and fruitless. Paul wants it to be clearly understood by the church that it is not the minister who is significant; it is God alone who is significant (verse 7). It is the Lord who employs ministers in His service and who alone can make their work effective and fruitful—and He does so for His own glory.
1 Corinthians 3:8-9
8 He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. 9 For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.
Far from there being a rivalry between ministers, there is a basic unity: “the one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose” (verse 8). Regardless of their unique gifts or spheres of service, all true ministers of Christ have a fundamental unity of purpose: serving Christ by ministering His Word and His grace to His people. As Paul expresses this truth in verse 9, “we are God’s fellow workers,” laboring in God’s field and in the construction of God’s building, the church—it is all of God and through God and for God.
1 Corinthians 3:10-12
10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled[b] master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw.
The previous verse completed a metaphor about planting a field. Paul pictured himself and Apollos as simple laborers among the field of the Corinthians, echoing something of Jesus’ parable of the sower (Matthew 13:1–9, 18–23). The field belongs to God and that’s where the Corinthians should focus their allegiance, not on any human leader.
Now Paul has shifted to the metaphor of constructing a building, with a closely related point in mind. He pictures himself as a skilled or wise master builder by God’s grace. In that role, he is the one who laid the foundation. The building is the church, the community of Christians, in Corinth. The following verse will show that the foundation Paul put in place was Jesus Christ.
In other words, Paul is the one who introduced Christ and the gospel to the Corinthians. He began the work, providing the stable, supporting “starting point” for everything meant to come after. Now others have come to build on the foundation as the church grows both in numbers and, hopefully, in spiritual maturity.
Jesus Christ is that foundation, and nobody else can put down any other foundation for the church. Put another way, the church will not stand on any other foundation besides Jesus Christ. The gospel—the good news from God about salvation from sin—starts and ends with faith in Jesus. Nothing can be added to it or taken from it or the message stops being the gospel. But they must take care that their work does in fact build on that foundation, which is Jesus Christ. They must not undermine the foundation, or seek to build their ministry on some other foundation; the results would be spiritually disastrous.
1 Corinthians 3:13–17
13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. 16 Do you not know that you[c] are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.
A fire is coming to test their work, Paul writes. That fire is Christ’s judgment of the work of Christians on the day of the Lord during the end times. Those whose work is built on the foundation of Jesus Christ will receive a reward. Those whose work is shown to be weak and worthless will suffer a loss, but they will be saved by God’s grace through faith in Christ. There will be no salvation, though, for anyone who destroys God’s temple, the church.
1 Corinthians 3:18-23
18 Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” 20 and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” 21 So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.
Instead of being wise by the world’s standards, Paul continues, one must become a fool in this culture to be wise before God. God will reveal the wisdom of those who deceive themselves by thinking they are wise to be worthless and futile. All things belong to those who are in Christ.
April 13 – Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:26-2:16
Good afternoon, Family, Thank you for continuing our journey through the New Testament. Today’s journey takes us to 1 Corinthians 1:26-2:16:
Key Verse: 1 Corinthians 2:2
“For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”
1 Corinthians 1:26-31
26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards,[c] not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being[d] might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him[e] you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
In 1:18-31. On one side is human wisdom, which the Greeks prize (Corinth is a Greek city). On the other side is the cross of Christ, which “is foolishness to those who are dying, but to us who are saved it is the power of God” (1:18). Paul said that “the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1:25). He illustrated that principle by the Corinthian Christians, who were not wise or powerful or of noble birth (1:26)—”but God chose the foolish things of the world that he might put to shame those who are wise. God chose the weak things of the world, that he might put to shame the things that are strong” (1:27). Paul reminds the Corinthian Christians that they have nothing about which to boast other than their relationship to the Lord. He said, “He who boasts, let him boast in the Lord” (1:31).
1 Corinthians 2
Paul begins 1 Corinthians chapter 2 by picking up a train of thought he left behind in the middle of chapter 1. There, he wrote that Christ did not send him to preach the gospel in Corinth with words of eloquent wisdom. To do so would risk emptying the cross of Christ of its power.
1 Corinthians 2:1-5
2 And I, when I came to you, brothers,[a] did not come proclaiming to you the testimony[b] of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men[c] but in the power of God.
He begins by admitting that he did not bring the Corinthians the kind of oral presentation they were accustomed to; speakers in Corinth and cities like it would have demonstrated extreme skill in their delivery and persuasive arguments. These orators presented the language with such eloquence that individuals would pay, giving their money to listen to speeches as a form of entertainment. Paul did not deliver this to the Corinthians. Instead, he preached the Gospel. Not with lofty speech—he was not an impressive speaker. Paul communicated “in weakness and in much fear and much trembling.”Further, Paul strayed from what the Corinthians might have expected from a speaker in the content that he provided. Paul’s arguments were not rich in humanly wisdom. His message was simple: “Jesus Christ and him crucified.” Paul spoke the Gospel with simplicity. And this is where the author creates his argument: his speech was simple, void of human wisdom and, through the power of the Spirit, it completely changed the lives of those who heard and responded .
1 Corinthians 2:6-16
6 Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. 7 But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him” 10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. 14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
Paul minimizes the significance of human wisdom but, in the remaining section of chapter 2, he recognizes that there is another kind of wisdom that can be gained. He moves on from this, citing Isaiah 64:4 in verse 9 to show that this special knowledge is unattainable by human senses. You can’t see it. You can’t hear it. You can’t imagine it. It’s not for the eyes, ears or heart alone. This delivers a strong blow to the culture of Corinth. Paul is telling them that this knowledge, this wisdom of God, cannot be attained by a simple mental pursuit of man. In contrast to the wisdom familiar to the people of Corinth, true wisdom has several unique qualities:1. It is wisdom of God (vv. 6–7). This wisdom is not of the age or the rulers of the age. This isn’t a human invention. 2. Its nature is secret and hidden (v. 7). The wisdom comes from God and can only be given by God himself (Matthew 11:25). No amount of learning or mental aptitude can elevate someone to reach this sort of understanding on his own.3. It has the message of salvation at its core (v. 9).4. It is imparted by the Holy Spirit (v. 10). The work of salvation is prepared by God, carried out by the Son, and applied by the Holy Spirit.Paul focuses on the Spirit to say that the Spirit brings us this knowledge. The Spirit shows us the heart and mind of God. The Spirit gives us access. It’s not by our comprehension and ability. Paul closes the chapter by introducing two different kinds of people: the spiritual and the natural. The natural person does not accept the things of God (true wisdom) because he simply cannot; the natural man lacks the Holy Spirit who is necessary to discern spiritual things. This individual relies solely on his own mental faculties and certainly misses the mark in understanding. The spiritual person, however, lives a different kind of life.